Study Guide

The Canterbury Tales: the Man of Law's Tale Lines 323-371

By Chaucer, Geoffrey

Lines 323-371

Lines 323-343

  • The mother of the Sultan, a.k.a the root of all evil, learns that her son intends to leave the Muslim faith and marry a Christian. Needless to say, she is displeased.
  • So she sends for her counselors, and tells them, "Lord, you know that my son intends to repudiate the precepts of the Koran, given to us by Mohamed. I, however, vow that the life will leave my body before I abandon our faith! What does this new law mean for us except the slavery of our bodies, and penance, and afterward, being sent to hell because we renounced Islam? But lords, if you agree to do as I counsel, I will keep us safe for all eternity."
  • In other words, they've gotta do something, and fast.

Lines 344-357

  • All of the counselors are on board with the mother of the Sultan. They'll help her execute her plan.
  • Which is what, exactly? Well, here's how she puts it: "We shall pretend to become Christians—cold water won't hurt us—and I will prepare such a feast that I will kill the Sultan."
  • "Though his wife be Christened lily-white, she will need to wash blood from her hands though she carries a font of water with her at all times."

Lines 358-371

  • The Man of Law spends a good few lines bemoaning all the evildoing that's going on. And blames it on Satan, of course.
  • As he puts it, Satan caused Eve to make us fall from grace into slavery. And Satan is going to doom this Christian marriage Satan makes women his instrument by beguiling them.
  • Satan = jerk. Got it.